We started keeping Golu once our youngest was 2 (he is now 8 and his sister is 11). My husband and I grew up with Navaratri Golu in our households and it is an important part of our childhood. We wanted to recreate the same experience for our kids. We live in an English village in the UK and have been doing this since 2015. Each time we went to India we would get some dolls and thus have accumulated a collection over the years.
Navaratri is a special time in our household now. Kids look forward to unwrapping the dolls and setting it up. We exchange stories about it and it is an annual family activity. The kids are also allocated a separate section to display their creations. We have a rule that the section has to be made using their toys or from things found in the house (no spending allowed). We have done a world map marking our holiday destinations with souvenirs, a park and a jungle (using their toys) and this year in keeping with my son's football and marvel obsession, they set up a pitch and a team (using his toys) as part of the display. Our Indian friends belonging to different parts of the country enjoy coming over to see the Golu with their families. We do a small storytelling session about the Navaratri story and our kids learn shlokam songs especially for Navratri.
This year in addition to the photos, we also sent out a Golu video to our family back home. Our daughter with her keen interest in technology was instrumental in setting the music for it. It was a matter of family pride when it was appreciated across both sides of the family.
Golu reminds us of home and of our parents who we have not seen for nearly 3 years now. We couldn't add more dolls due to travel restrictions, but we still marked the Covid times with the wedding scene and this created a lot of amusement among visitors. An example of being creative without being expensive.
The best compliment we have ever received is when a friend remarked, "Through your Golu, our kids get to learn about our Gods. Festivities have been an important part of our childhoods. I am unable to do it, but coming over to yours allows me to teach my kids about our cultural ethos." A statement like this makes all the hard work worthwhile.